Breaking News! High End Systems INSIDE SCOOP – Intellaspot’s Indigo Highlighter and The TechnoSpot

I told you I’d be back on Thursday!  Check THIS out:

I just got some inside information about something awesome Richard Belliveau and his team are doing over at High End Systems.  You see that image above here?  It’s the new system going into the Intellaspot XT-1 – a system of indigo LEDs that mount into the bumpers on the front of the Intellaspot!  These things are deep indigo, VERY bright, and look great as a wash all on their own.  When I say indigo, I mean indigo – they’re not deep blue.  The output is just quite amazing, let me say that.  The four 1W LEDs are such an interesting contrast to the idea of round beams of light in contrast – can you imagine having a look where all your Intellaspots were in white hard0edged beams, and you crossfade to the indigo highlighter?!  I can just taste that look in my head!

If you’re going to ProLight and Sound in Frankfurt, Germany April 6-9?  If so, you’ll get to put your hands on the new Indigo Highlighter on the Intellaspot XT-1.  I’m bummed, I wanted to go, but I have two shows back-to-back this year.  I can’t really complain, you know?  The House of Atreus is opening tonight – we got some great photos too!

How it has been explained to me is that the Indigo Highlighter on the Intellaspot XT-1 works just like the SHOWGUN and SHOWBEAM fixtures, where you can have the LEDs track with the main intensity of the fixture (which would all go out, for example, when you take down a fader), or you can have independent control of both the LEDs and the main output.  Either way, both awesome.  OH – and you can strobe the indigo LEDs!!!

Also, if you’re going to be in Frankfurt at ProLight and Sound, you’ll be seeing a new fixture from High End Systems!  You’ll be meeting the TechnoSpot – a fixture that has all of the features with a hard edge, and a lower wattage output.  TechnoSpot also has the large aperture too – more huge beams of light!  Take a picture, email me, somebody!

Need to Pause – Back on Thursday!

Hi everybody.

I want to just give you a quick heads up – I am going to be AWOL for the next two days until my current show gets out of tech.  Thanks for being understanding – I know many of you are in the very same situation!

I’ll be back on Thursday – until then, wish me luck!  I hope this finds you all doing great!

Jim

Friday Awesome – Northern Lights Time-Lapse Video

Whoa.

This has been one crazy busy week!  I’m in technical rehearsals tomorrow for a greek show called The House of Atreus – I am lighting the show, and I wrote a bunch of music for it, so my brain should be completely yogurt by the end of the weekend.  I’m also about to launch into the focus week for The Wedding Singer – oh yeah, I still have to build a light plot for that show.

Good times!

I saw this last night, and I had to share it with you all – check out this time lapse video of Aurora Borealis in the night time sky.  Photographer Terje Sorgjerd is the man responsible for this beautiful work – from what I understand, it is the culmination of tens of thousands of photos!

The Aurora from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

DIY 8 X 8 X 8 LED Display – You Bet Your Tukus I’m Building One of These

One of the Duluth Crew, Alex Rugowski from Twitter, posted a tweet about this crazy 8x8x8 LED display this morning.  This thing is driven with MatLab – remember that crazy thing?!  You have to see this video – the fades are pretty smooth for an 8 pixel square 3D display!  The engineer of this awesome project is a guy named Nick Schulze, and he runs a blog called How Not to Engineer.  I highly recommend taking a look around Nick’s site, he is a true nerd in every sense of the world.  So glad to hear of you, Nick!

Check out the video of Nick’s monster in action:

Light and Optics Work Together to Make LCDTV Possible

My old (and still awesome) friend Derek Heckler sent me this video that you all have to watch – seriously, watch this video! Bill Hammack (from Engineer Guy, also a professor at the University of Illinois) made this video, and I have to say that it is one of the best videos on breaking down the internal working components of light and optics in LCD monitors!

Also, make sure to check out Bill’s videos on Youtube, too – hours and hours of awesome watching there!

Amazing – A Laser Show with Speakers for Galvos

I was reaing Instructables this weekend, and I came across a project that someone had done that used audio speakers like galvanometers (galvos) to actually move a laser beam around!  The project has full X-Y control of the laser beam, and with a wee little Arduino microcontroller, you have yourself a fully programmable laser show for about 50 bucks.  Pretty awesome.

Have you never seen a laser device that spells words and makes pictures and such?  Inside of those devices are several little things called galvanometers – in the laser world, we call them galvos, or a galvo, singular.  These things are basically moving coil electric current detectors, pure and simple.  When a voltage is applied, they react.  When a voltage is applied and changed several times a second, you see all kinds of little erratic movements in the galvo.  With laser shows and devices that utilize galvos to spell words and draw pictures with lasers, what is happening is that the voltage is being changed rapidly and constantly in order to make the laser appear to be spelling out these words and pictures.

Pretty simple and awesome, yeah?

You have to check out this amazing Instructables method for building this awesome little DIY galvo laser show.  It’s well worth a few Monday morning minutes!  Here’s a video of the system in action:

There Has Never Been a Better Time to Stop Using Non-Renewables, Ever

This is going to seem like a ramble, and I’m okay with that, but I think that something needs to be said. It’s time that we stop depending on the Middle East and despotic regimes like Libya for the oil we use to light our world. While we’re at it, we should also convert from using coal and natural gas to forms of energy that we’re not going to run out of to forms of energy that are essentially good forever. I mean, really – when solar power runs out, we’ve bigger problems to worry about then, don’t we.

Doesn’t this seem like such a no-brainer? Switching from a fuel that is going to run out to a fuel that will never run out?

In my perfect Utopian world that obviously only exists in my head, we harness solar fully in just three states, wind in just two states, tidal and wave on the coasts, and provide the necessary gear for people to very easily use solar and wind at home. I’m a lighting designer, and I imagine a world where every touring production travels with a truck that has a solar and battery setup to self-sustain the show’s power needs. Wouldn’t that be just awesome and amazing?

Those kind of systems exist now. Yep, that’s no bull.

You know what the really sick and creepy thing about all of this energy generation business is? We actually CAN do exactly what exists in my head. We have the technology, desire, and ability to turn our power from coal and oil to wind, solar, geothermal, and tidal, among other forms. But, as we live in a country (and on a planet) that is so addicted to non-renewables like oil and coal, a change like this can only come if we demand it. All of us. Together.

When a place like Libya undergoes a revolt like is experiencing now, everything goes to sh*t around the world. Gas prices skyrocket. Everything costs more because the price of oil goes nuts. I just heard on NPR a few days that a barrel of oil just hit $100 bucks on the market. It’s not expected to get much cheaper any time soon, either. How can we continue to keep doing this, folks? It’s not just our gas that’s going to continue to climb honed and higher, it’s going to be everything in our lives – electricity bills, heating and cooling costs, light and lighting, food, clothing, all of it.

Something that we cannot overlook now is the danger of nuclear power.  Our brothers and sisters in Japan are experiencing the repercussions of the dangers of nuclear power for light after this last unprecedented earthquake and subsequent tsunami.  Have you been watching the news about the fires happening at the Fukushima Daiishi and Daini plants outside Tokyo right now?  Wider protection zones are being requested and considered by high ranking officials around the nuclear power plants in Tokyo, we’re haring news about meltdowns, radioactive fallout, and radiation sickness dangers.  It’s not a secret that nuclear power plants are powerful – but if you compare the bi-products and danger considerations versus those for renewable energy sources like solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, and wave, is the danger really that worth it?

When the earthquake and tsunami first hit, the stock market was all a buzz about how solar stocks would triumph in this moment of our time.  Now the same people are saying that oil, coal, and gas are making big leaps and bounds because of the earthquake.  How screwed up is it that people spend more time trying to profit from a disaster like the one that just happened and is growing ever stronger and worse, day by day?  Why aren’t we trying to get solar and wind power in there now to help people out?

Think of the amount of energy needed to harvest pretty much every single non-renewable – oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear fuel – each of these methods requires several multiples of the energy actually gained just to make it in the first place.  Renewable energy sources require nearly no extra energy (or carbon footprint).  Why is this so hard for everyone to understand?

We cannot afford to rely on these non-renewables for our light any longer. We just cannot afford to be petroleum slaves anymore.  Our technological development in light is moving in the wrong direction when we base it on what coal, oil, and nuclear power are dictating.

There are so many advancements in solar technology happening right now, as well as with wind, geothermal, tidal, and wave power generation that it is staggering to think we’re not completely utilizing these sustainable sources of power. We are destroying our home with the mining of oil, coal, and natural gas.  Fracking, for example (fracture drilling for you Battlestar Galactica fans), has been proven to cause earthquakes.  Spent nuclear fuel (and live nuclear fuel for that matter) is so dangerous to humans that it must be buried deep underground to keep it away from us.  We have got to knock this stuff off and get involved in having a home that will be around for a long time. At our current rate, we are absolutely screwed.

Over the last few years as politicians have been lobbied by the CFL and LED manufacturers, we as lighting designers have all gotten our underwear in a bunch over being told we can’t use incandescents.  What sucks about that is that yes, it would be awesome to have a replacement for incandescent sources so that our light sources don’t draw a lot of power.  Well, my frank opinion is that if we were able to generate new electricity nearly free of cost, who cares what light sources we use?  Should we keep developing?  Of course.  Should we keep looking for an incandescent replacement?  Of course we should.  We should also work on improving our current power grid so that we have better distribution of power – it would stun your mind how many places across the country (and world for that matter) are operating on an industry-birth set of infrastructure that is as old as the industry is itself.  How much sense does that make?

Of course, what do I know – I only spend 8-12 hours a day looking at the advancement of light in our society.  I know we can do better, we just have to do it.  I want the best for us!  Most of all, I want us to start thinking sustainably – we’re not gonna make it if we don’t.  That is, of course, just my educated opinion.  But again, what do I know?

JimOnLight at Night – Check Out this Insane 80’s New York City Video!

Why?  It’s because I’m still awake, that’s why!

A friend sent me this video today – if there was ever a video that was meant for summer festival jamband video screen content, it’s this one.  Watch this in the dark, pay close attention to the colors and shadows this thing is gonna make all over your room!

The videographer/artist is Rick Liss – I couldn’t find a website for Rick’s work, which is apparently through Rick Liss Studios.

This video is a trip.  It’s probably best that you’re not drunk while you watch it, but then again I’m a puker.

The Hebrew Hammer’s JimOnLight.com USITT Review. Outstanding!

I am proud to have a smart young guy like Aron Altmark on the JimOnLight.com Team – Aron is a lighting designer/programmer in the Vegas area, and if you’ve been around to LDI or USITT in the last few years, you’ve met Aron.  We very affectionately refer to him as the Hebrew Hammer, because, well, Aron’s awesome.

I’m bummed I was unable to get Jax out to the USITT show this year, but you can count on seeing her at LDI in Orlando in all of her beautiful tattooed glory!  I was only able to be at the conference this year to give my session, and let me just say that I am bummed on all I missed by having to leave early!  This is our lives though, and we all know and do it.

I want you to give a big ol’ JimOnLight.com Community welcome to Aron – and his awesome USITT Wrap-up!

Aron?


Good day all of you out in the creating and entertainment world!

Some of you may know me from past JimOnLight appearances, such as Laser Graffiti and the random tweetup run-ins Jim and I tend to have. I just got back to Las Vegas—my home base for the past year—from a fantastic, fun, and enlightening conference known as USITT (the United States Institute of Theatre Technology, for those of you who don’t already know). I was there walking the floor, attending sessions, and talking to everyone I could for a solid four days in the lovely Deep South city of Charlotte, North Carolina. Here’s what you missed if you weren’t able to go, and if you were there here’s what you may not remember after the nighttime festivities…

USITT is first and foremost geared toward students. Even though most of my time in Vegas has been taken up by working nightclubs and programming, I am still in school part-time at both UNLV in Las Vegas and another school online, so I can definitely appreciate things from a student’s perspective. At the closing ceremony, it was reported that over 4,000 people attended the conference, not including exhibitors. I’d be willing to bet that at least half to two-thirds of these were students, judging by the amount of young faces on the floor. This conference’s biggest advantages, in my opinion: how close and hands-on students from all over the country can get to industry-leading technologies,, the wealth of learning opportunities through sessions, and the ridiculous amount of networking possible.

Students everywhere, if you don’t already practice it, get on this networking train. It’s THE MOST VALUABLE skill to have in our industry now, as touted by every single industry pro I’ve come in contact with at LDI and USITT in the past few years. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn are all such valuable tools to use, especially in such a technologically saturated world. Case in point: while interviewing an exhibitor about a product, Richard Cadena walked up to me and said hello. He remembered me from last few conferences, and perhaps from our brief exchanges on Facebook—if you don’t know who Richard Cadena is, GOOGLE NOW. The connections you form at these things can be kept going for years, and it may only take so much as a tweet every now and then. You never know where it’ll get you.

As far as sessions go, I have been somewhat less than satisfied with those offered at past USITT and LDI shows, as they seem to be rather hit-or-miss with which are amazing and which aren’t worth the time. Many presenters, from what I’ve been told by other attendees, weren’t prepared well enough and based their entire time on Q&A. Some sessions are purely life stories, which can be nice, but I am a big proponent of teaching practical trade skills at conferences. After a few sessions in a row of life stories, I tend to be begging to learn a console or a new method of using color. Don’t get me wrong—learning from the successes and mistakes of those before me is a fantastic thing, and I do love it. It’s just that I think that at a conference where students have access to more technology at one time than most universities will be able to afford in four years of budget, shouldn’t students get some hands-on time with the expensive toys?

Speaking of expensive toys, here’s a brief run-down of some of my favorite—some new, some updated—products found on the show floor at USITT:

Desire LED by Electronic Theatre Controls:
This brand-new fixture from ETC is the next iteration of their extremely-popular Selador LED fixtures. It is a wash-light that uses the Selador’s X7 color system to provide beautiful color palettes hard to attain with standard RGB LED fixtures. I spoke with Novella, the creator of the Desire, who told me that it sports three different models—the D40 and D40 XT (outdoor), as well as the D60, the bigger and brighter version. You can order your Desire in six different styles: Vivid for amazing color rendering, Lustr for more theatrical punch, Fire/Ice for extremely hot reds and cool blues, and three Studio models for TV/Film applications. The Desire sports a 30-40% increase in brightness over Selador, dimming curves to match incandescent or other LEDs, adjustable output frequency, and they use a whopping 125W per fixture AT FULL. Also, get this: the Desire has an Amber Drift function built in, so your colors will stay consistent with those of your tungsten fixtures. Definitely on my wish list.

Reveal LED Studio Fresnel by Prism Projection:
LEDs are all the rage now, especially with the green revolution we’re undergoing all over the world (and which I’m a huge supporter of). Prism Projection won awards for their LED Profile (that can use construction paper gobos) at LDI 2010 in Las Vegas, and are following it up with this beautiful Film and TV-aimed LED Fresnel. The good people over at Prism hand-picked their LEDs for wattage and color to create the best color rendering possible. The LED Studio Fresnel spits out 7600 lumens with a tunable CCT of 2700-8000K, 20-70 degree zoom, silky smooth 0-100% dimming, and features plus/minus green/magenta for calibrating to other craptastic light sources. It sips power at 180W on full white, and has a hi-amperage DC connector on the side that allows you to run the light off of existing camera (or 9-Volt) batteries. One user ran it for two hours using a belt pack battery.

PL1 & PL3 LED by Philips:
Last LED I’ll feature, I promise. These amazing fixtures use the light engines from the industry-changing VLX LED moving light that Vari*Lite released a few years back. The PL3, aimed at replacing a 1.2kW Fresnel, uses three VLX light engines, while the PL1 uses only one. The PL1 is aimed at museums and galleries, with pre-programmed color and color temperature presets. The RGBW source is beautiful in its color rendering, and the addition of white into the LED engine makes it possible to use very saturated colors while still maintaining the integrity of the artwork on display. The coolest thing I found about this fixture was that museums are attempting to discover what time of day, month, and year paintings were done so that they can use these fixtures to replicate the EXACT light the painter had when creating it. Essentially, you could one day soon see the Mona Lisa as Da Vinci did.

DMX Goodies by Enttec:
Enttec probably had one of my favorite booths this year. I spent a good hour each day playing with DMX toys and talking with Jeremy, Enttec’s sales rep for the show. Enttec is making the world of lighting control really affordable, with their DMX to USB and DMX to Ethernet interfaces. These run from a “You’ve got to be kidding me, that doesn’t even pay for parts” $60 DMXàUSB  dongle to the “Okay, seriously, does Fleenor know you’re doing this?” $90 4-Port DMX Opto-Splitter. These things are great quality and priced JUST RIGHT FOR STUDENTS. HINT HINT. Just think, you could spend under 100 bucks, download Chamsys’ MagicQ console software, buy a $50 dongle, and you have a lighting console on your PC. Just like that. Jeremy was also showing me their new DMXIS software, which is a really nice piece of software that is aimed at being a very simple but powerful lighting laptop-based lighting controller. It’s loaded with features, and I can almost promise you’ll see more about it from me very soon. Enttec also has a new DataGate, which is an 8-port DMX opto-iso that supports RDM, Art-Net, and uses a web browser interface…which means you can use its wealth of features from ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. Again, I’m sure you’ll see more on this from me soon. Enttec is a great company to get to know, they’re in it to win it.

Green Hippo Hippotizer by TMB:
My friend Loren from TMB was showing me the highlight reel they had running at the show, and includes some ridiculous gigs. You may have seen the Academy Awards recently, which used a total of 53 Green Hippo Hippotizers. That’s right, that’s over 74 HD outputs. The cool thing about TMB’s media server platform is how flexible it is. The UberPan system they have now allows for easy manipulation of content across multiple displays, while VideoMapper allows for crazy mapping onto LED screens, as seen in last year’s Super Bowl Halftime Show with The Who’s performance.

Pandora’s Box by Coolux, Ltd:
While we’re on the media server soap box, I went by the Coolux booth to take a look at their powerhouse media platform, and it has some stupid neat stuff going on as well. The coolest thing about Pandora’s Box, in my opinion, is the Widget Designer feature. As someone who is on the verge of lighting, video, and interactive applications, I’m always looking for more ways to incorporate external inputs and sources into media. The Widget Designer has 700-800 widgets currently available, and being a node-based platform makes it easy to incorporate many widgets into a project. Pandora’s Box does amazing projection mapping as well via the Warper, which allows for 10,000 individual nodes (points) per video output to map to. This allows you to set up a projector and do live warping to you subject. See their website for some ridiculous highlight reels.

Avolites Titan OS:
Alright, you knew I couldn’t stay away from consoles for long. I’m a programmer. Give me a break. I haven’t been a big Avo fan for a while, but I saw their new consoles getting some great press and decided to take a look at the new Titan OS lineup…I was extremely impressed. They were showing off a prototype Sapphire Touch, a large console with 45 motorized faders and two internal touchscreens meant to rival the grandMA2 Light. It wasn’t quite up to functioning yet, but it did have some pretty face-panel features such as tri-color LEDs under the trackball and encoders to help you determine what attributes you’re currently affecting, as well as color changing to match CMY and RGB fixtures. They also implemented a “Saturn’s Ring” encoder around the trackball which I really loved the feel of for zoom/iris. The Tiger Touch, already in production, was extremely impressive. It is a very capable, well-made compact console with a whole lot of power. The large internal touchscreen allows for drawing of legends so you can label your fixtures, groups, and presets as you would like instead of being restricted to typing names. The Titan Mobile, a four-DMX port, ultra-portable version of the Tiger Touch, is perfect for on-the-go shows. It is powered off of a laptop and can support up to 12 universes via Art-Net. All of the Titan OS consoles can freely exchange show information, and all feature ITC Thumbnail exchange for media servers. I’m going to get my hands on one of these pronto.

V476 by PRG:
This is another prototype console on the show floor, but this one is run on something a bit unheard of in the past few years of console development: Mac OS X. This was a VERY nicely laid-out, well-constructed console. It seems to have been thought about from the programmers’ standpoint, which I definitely appreciate. The console uses a left-hand bias for the keypad, which I was a bit unsure of at first, but I’ve gotten used to stranger things before. For user friendliness and ease of programming, this seems like a good busking console. I’m looking forward to some hands-on time with the Vegas shop.

grandMA2 v2.2 by MA Lighting:
The grandMA2 is a phenomenal console (not that I’m biased…I run two of them in Vegas) with enough capabilities for the most gargantuan of shows—up to 256 universes of DMX and 10,000 possible sequences, presets, and groups. The version 2.2 software came out recently and sports some awesome new features that cater the theatre world specifically, making A.C.T’s USITT appearance a nice treat. There are two blind modes: one that allows for blind edits of cues currently playing, and another that gives you a completely blind programmer for quick programming of looks, groups, and more without live output. Partial show read has been implemented, as well as import/export, allowing you to use sequences, presets, groups, and patch from various shows selectively. RDM and Art-Net in have been implemented, and there is a nifty new iPhone/iPad remote that can speak to both grandMA series 1 and grandMA2 consoles. Layout views, a powerful tool for creating a custom user interface for your show, can take snapshots of your 3-D Stage View for ease of creation of many variations of layout views quickly. The two new features that are my favorite: the DMX Tester, which pops up when you open the DMX Sheet—allowing for live adjustment/testing of individual DMX addresses, as well as quick patching and troubleshooting; and the new Modes for sequences, which introduce two modes of Assert (like an Allfade) and Break (like a Block cue). The grandMA2 is quickly moving from a ridiculously overpowered live/busking console to one that can easily make its home in the house of traditional proscenium theatres.

Check out the photo spread from my USITT experience this year, and thanks for having me, everybody!

Barbizon’s Electrician’s Handbook App is Awesome

When I started out in this business, I was a lighting tech for a few years before getting on the bigger gigs as a designer.  I always, always had four things in my tool bag (other than tools) – a copy of Ugly‘s, a copy of the little card that High End Systems made for the Studio Color, a PowerBar, and a copy of the Barbizon Electrician’s Handbook.  When Tobin at Barbizon told me about the Electrician’s Handbook APP, I was so excited to get my hands on it, for old time’s sake!  Old time’s sake became regular reality again when I can now have that little bugger on my iPhone.  It’s also available for Droid, too.

There is one addition that makes me giggle – if you have an iOS 4 phone, your LED flash on the back of the phone now works as a flashlight!

That tickles me in a way that if it were actually tickling me, I’d probably say something like “yeah, that’s the spot, that feels goooood.”

Check out some screen grabs of the handbook app, and WHY DO YOU NOT HAVE THIS YET?!  It’s FREE!

Nice.  Thanks, Barbizon!